Danielle Colby

She Made Me Do It! – Danielle Colby

Have you ever had a moment where the stars align and universes converge and any doubts you have about the power of the force suddenly become obsolete?

You vibe the magic.

If just for a moment…

You see, the only way to notice magic is to believe in it, so drink the Kool-Aid, or don’t, but here’s my story.

I’m currently in SoHo NYC (fancy-schmancy) obsessing on my new project called “she made me do it”, (no, this is not a shameless plug, rather an important detail to this story so please bare with me) featuring absurdly inspiring stories of contagious feminine ingenuity.

I’m here on the East Coast meeting up with some of the women who have inspired me and changed the world while doing it. The hook is that the story is REALLY about those women who have inspired them to their greatest potential.

I swear I’ve lived 10 lifetimes in one. Throughout my 41 years I have met some incredible ladies, most hilarious, some somber, some wildly famous and others who should be, some from far off exotic lands and some down home as hell.

These ladies don’t necessarily know each other but the thread that weaves their lives together in this story is the impact they have had on mine. This is a story of how one woman can impact another and how every woman impacts our world.

While walking through this fun house of femininity, I met up with a brilliant Japanese designer, my dear friend Hiromi Carrera. We met years ago through work connections and really found a great deal of magic in each other.

Through the years we have talked about collaborating to create an amazing costume fit for a queen. Life being what it is, we never made time until now.

So here I am surfing the garment district with my incredible friend Hiromi, and my personal manager Haley, trying to source the perfect materials to create our vision of my “Queen of Rust Costume” for an upcoming performance.

As we’re planning out our project, bopping around from trim shop to trim shop, entranced by the feel and color play of reverse sequin, we are talking about our design/artistic inspirations. Which includes an insane exhibition at the Met. Haley is telling us that we cannot miss this and Hiromi obviously is tickled with this plan and I’m always up for an adventure.

It was our second trip to Mood Fabrics in the Garment District (a textile junkies dream) in as many days to find the worlds finest flesh tone, beaded illusion lace. We spent the morning documenting the process of the design and had just found the perfect material. 17 hours into our search, standing in line for the cutting counter, Hiromi looks like she is about to cry.

Her face is beet red and her eyes full of yet, unspent tears. As I commence a visual sweep of the crowded aisles brimming with cobalt leather and muted herringbone, I see a stylish mature Japanese woman with a blunt dark bob cut wearing an asymmetrical red kilt with a black motorcycle leather. Each time she passes us Hiromi forgets to breathe and squeezes my wrist saying something that, I admit, I don’t understand one bit of… yes, I’m that white girlfriend that smiles and gives you the thumbs up even when I don’t comprehend the emphatic Japanese sentiment pouring forth.

Especially in crowds… I’m not a crowd person. It overwhelms me.

As Hiromi walks up to the cutting counter to stand toe to toe with the woman in the red kilt she turns around and looks at me and covers her eyes and squeals, silently (you have to know her to understand the silent squeal.) At that moment , Haley, grabs me by the arm and says “do you know who that is?!” I said, “no? The kilt lady?” And Haley responded “yes Danielle… the kilt lady.” I still honestly had no idea and felt quite stupid about it.

She said, “do you remember when I was telling you about the amazing installation at the Met that we have to go see? That’s the designer who inspired it, Hiromi’s hero! The one who inspired her to start design school as a teenager in Japan. Get your phone out and google her, right now at metmuseum.org her name is Rei Kawakubo, she is legendary!”

Well, as much as I love to think that I know everything about everything, Iam just a down-home girl from Iowa and I’m not nearly as fashion savvy as the two brilliant women that happened to be standing next to me at the moment. So I googled her and this is what I find: “The Costume Institute’s spring 2017 exhibition examines the work of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her avant-garde designs and ability to challenge conventional notions of beauty, good taste, and fashionability. The thematic show features approximately 140 examples of Kawakubo’s womens wear for Comme des Garçons dating from the early 1980s to her most recent collection. The galleries illustrate the designer’s revolutionary experiments in “in-betweenness”—the space between boundaries. Objects are organized into nine aesthetic expressions of interstitiality in Kawakubo’s work: Absence/Presence, Design/Not Design, Fashion/Anti-Fashion, Model/Multiple, Then/Now, High/Low, Self/Other, Object/Subject, and Clothes/Not Clothes. Kawakubo breaks down the imaginary walls between these dualisms, exposing their artificiality and arbitrariness.”

So no big deal, I walk right up to her and I tapped her gently on the shoulder and I say “excuse me but I just want you to know that your work has inspired my friend into fashion design, you’re the inspiration for her life’s work.”

But I forgot we’re in New York, you don’t do that kind of stuff in New York. So her response was appropriate for a world famous fashion designer just trying to get her fabric and get out as soon as possible. She turns around she looks me in the eye gives me a sideways half smile turns back around talk to her friend and of course I got the hint so I walked away.

Hiromi is almost as mortified as she is dumbstruck by the moment. She is obviously much more shy than me, her big, tall, loud American friend. We proceed to the closest exit and rundown the stairs in hopes of seeing a glimpse of her exiting the massive store front. As we sweep through the revolving doors we see a shiny, black limo parked directly in front of us, close enough to touch. Through the tinted glass I see a shy smirk with a blunt bob haircut pulling away. I could feel Hiromi’s heart beating out loud from a foot away. As we walked away from that black limo and that surreal experience she looks up at me and says “I think she is our magic fairy for this project. I would love to have a photo of this moment but what will I do with a photo, pet it and stare at it? No, I will instead let the moment inspire me to make the most magical costume yet! So, have you ever come face to face with your biggest inspiration?”

I thought about it for a second, and realized in fact I had, many times, met some of my biggest heroes. Some of them were so wonderful and kind and full of magic, like Dolly Parton, what a magical creature she is, encouraging, accepting and inspiring.

And then there are the other ones, shy, introspective or sometimes a bit intimidating. It’s interesting how these meetings are both euphoric and devastating at the same time. When you realize that the people you’ve looked up to for so long have absolutely no interest in knowing you but still you love them and think they’re fantastic! It’s understandable that somebody with so much responsibility and notoriety wants to stay private, people want attention from them all of the time. They probably get taken advantage of all of the time by strangers posing as friends, yet it hurts to have somebody so inspirational standing in front of you and know for sure you probably will never see them again and THEY are totally OK with that. It seriously makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time, it’s a mixed bag of emotions. The thankfulness to be in their presence and possibly drink in some of that magic through osmosis, like somehow you’re going to walk away a better person by proxy.

I believe if you can focus on the magic of that situation you actually do! Understanding the humanity in everybody and appreciating the small, magical moments and artistic contributions, without tarnishing those precious moments with expectation, shows a measure of grace that gets rarer by the hour.

Hiromi was brimming with magical grace, as always. She allowed that interaction to reach its most inspirational outcome by pointing out to me that we had been talking all week about the people who inspire us working on an inspirational collaboration project in New York City such an inspirational place, and had just made contact with her most inspirational female figure. It was an inspirational trifecta of epic proportions!

I walk away with the undeniable knowledge, deep in my heart, that if you look for magic you will find it.

As I wrap up this blog I received this lovely text from her, “Danielle and Haley!! Thank you so much for this magical day. While I was putting Archer (her 1yr old baby boy) to sleep, I thought what great timing Rei Kawakubo showed up. Rei Kawakubo once said ” I always push myself something for new, something strong, otherwise next never comes. She never followed the existed beauty, and sincerely found her own voice. That’s what I needed that very moment!!! Let’s create a passionate innovative historical beautiful piece!”

With her midnight text, she sent this simple, clean, stunning sketch image of her reworked design inspired by our truly magical day…


  • John Christopher Wynne

    Great article loved.it

  • Gillian Weston

    Beautiful story it is inspirational to read about true friendships and the joy and creativity they can bring.

  • Bryan Sparks

    Danielle, You are a very inspiring woman.

  • LucilleLicck

    Inspiring story and I love the magic I see in each day.

  • Sara H.

    This is beautiful!
    There is magic seeded & growing in every moment. Lucky ones happen to notice it when it blooms! 🙂

  • Anne Fowler

    Beautiful story, well told….